When I Was a Child: Children's Interpretations of First Communion

By Susan Ridgely Bales | Go to book overview

conclusion
Adding Children’s Voices in Religious Studies

“Hey, Miss Susan,” a voice called as I headed into a local department store. I turned to see two middle-school boys in sweatshirts and jeans walking on the other side of the mall. It took me a moment to realize who the boys were: Ferris and Ryan from Holy Cross Catholic Church. Ferris, perhaps having sensed my initial confusion, asked, “Do you know who we are?” “Yes,” I replied, “of course.” I began to ask them about school and church when Ferris jumped in and said, “You don’t have your notebook.” “No, Ferris,” I smiled and said, “I don’t carry it everywhere, just church.” He flashed a quick smile in return and said, “So are we in a book yet?” “No,” I replied, “but you will be soon, I hope.” With that, the boys were swept up in a group of friends from school. We waved to each other as they turned into the candy store. They were at the mall on a field trip with Immaculata Catholic School, and both geographically and chronologically a long way from our former days together in Faith Formation class. In the boys’ now twelve-year-old faces, I saw signs of the eight-year-olds that I had played with before Faith Formation class. Given their physical and mental growth, as well as their subsequent religious training, I was sure that their perceptions of First Communion would be very different from those they had had five years earlier. These past perceptions, however, were now my present challenge as I struggled to analyze their interviews and organize them into that book in which Ferris had hoped to find himself by now.

I wondered how Ryan’s and Ferris’s interpretations may have changed over time. However, I had decided years before to concentrate on their perceptions as First Communicants as they prepared

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